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0001 | Disgrace – J. M. Coetzee

Read this with Sheena while travelling around SE Asia. Never read a book about S. Africa so it was an insight simply from that point of view. A S. African helped us with the author’s name: it’s pronounced curt-sea-ah.

Sparse and tense. This novel is evidence of a great writer’s ability to craft language and pare it down to the barest form necessary to convey multiple levels of meaning. Think of Tolstoy on a heavy diet. The people in the novel are very complex characters. Even at the end, you are unsure just how to respond to any of them. This is so much like real life and so little like the hollywood shmalz dividing the world into the good and the evil. The issues that this novel deals with are meaty and real. For this alone it is worth the read. But with Coetzee’s writing, the whole comes together in a masterpiece of form.

For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has to his mind solved the problem of sex rather well.


The one who comes to teach learns the keenest of lessons while those who come to learn learn nothing.

duenna: a woman chaperon
schadenfreude: delight in another person’s misfortune
inamorata: a woman with whom you are in love or have an intimate relationship
snoek: is a popular fish in South Africa, prepared most often by frying or smoking. It is oily and extremely bony and has a taste similar to that of mackerel.

Yes, I am giving him up.

terrible > poor > mediocre > okay > good > very good > excellent > superb

2006 – Dec

3 comments… add one
  • meli 1 June, 2007, 4:41 pm

    Nice review – succinct and to the point.

  • Matt 10 August, 2009, 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the review, I think I’ll see if this is available to get for my Kindle. This seems right up my alley.

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